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Jake's Heart Story

On October 28, 2023, Jake had a heart attack. Thanks to great medical care from Duke Medical Center, he's recovering nicely. This sweaty picture was taken moments after Jake graduated from Duke's Cardiopulmonary Rehab Center on December 29, 2023.

Heart Healthy Leadership

Have you ever gone to Google afraid of what you might find?


Late in October 2023 my search phrases were lots of permutations of “chest pains” and “walking uphill." I was hoping to see “indigestion” and “heartburn”. But instead of ads for Pepto Bismal, I saw “signs of a heart attack” and “myocardial infarction” in my search results.


So I went to urgent care, who told me to go to the ER, who told me I was having a heat attack. I tried doing the denial thing at the hospital, but it’s pretty hard to argue with the results of a cardiac catheterization.


I became one of 2 million people to get a heart stent every year. Fast forward a few months and I’ve changed my relationship with food, with exercise, with work and with health care.


And as someone who has coached leaders for the past 20 years, I have begun to change my point of view on leadership development. That’s right, I’m turning my heart attack into content. Here are three things I believe to be true about heart healthy leadership:


  1. Heart healthy leaders motivate action without creating stress for themselves or others. Instead of passion — which comes from the Latin word for suffering — they create the conditions for sustainable work.

  2. Heart healthy leaders find alignment in themselves and others. Creating alignment between personal values and the work that needs to be done promotes alignment between short-term performance and long-term health.

  3. Heart healthy leaders role model healthy habits. That means, for example, less focus on alcohol at social events and more walking meetings.


More to come later. For now, if you’re a leader, just know that you have the ability to affect the heart health of your team. Please use that power wisely. Stay healthy.

February 24, 2023

P.S. Shout out to the Medtronic Onyx Frontier™ drug-eluting stent for keeping my ticker ticking.

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